Dec. 5, 2008
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Nine Georgia Tech football players have been named to Phil Steele’s All-ACC teams announced today. B-back Jonathan Dwyer, offensive tackle Andrew Gardner, defensive end Michael Johnson, defensive tackle Vance Walker and safety Morgan Burnett were first-team selections. Offensive tackle Cord Howard and defensive tackle Darryl Richards were each second-team picks, while wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and defensive end Derrick Morgan were named to the third team.
The Yellow Jackets, ranked 15th in the Associated Press poll and BCS poll, are 9-3 and have accepted an invitation to play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl New Year’s Eve in the Georgia Dome (7:30 p.m./ESPN). Georgia Tech was picked by ACSMA to finish fourth in the ACC’s Coastal Division in the preseason poll. Sports Illustrated projected the Jackets to finish 3-9 this season.
Dwyer leads the ACC in rushing (110.7 yards per game), ranks second in all-purpose yards per game (136.8) and second in touchdowns scored (13). The Marietta (Ga.) sophomore has rushed for more than 100 yards in a game nine times this season, including four straight to end the regular season. Dwyer ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s 45-42 win at 13th-ranked Georgia.
Gardner was Tech’s veteran leader on an offensive line that has helped the Yellow Jackets rank third nationally in rushing offense. Gardner played in 48 consecutive games before having season-ending surgery in early November. He earned ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week honors twice in 2008.
Walker emerged in 2007 as one of the nation’s top interior lineman and continued with a stellar season in 2008. Walker has 8.0 tackles-for-loss and 3.0 sacks, including a sack in the end zone for a safety that was key in Georgia Tech’s 19-16 victory at ACC Atlantic Division champion Boston College in September.
Johnson ranks third in the ACC in tackles-for-loss (15.0) and fourth in sacks (7.0). The 6-7 Johnson broke-up seven passes, forced two fumbles, recovered a fumble, blocked a Mississippi State field goal attempt and returned an interception for a touchdown against Miami.
Richard joined Walker to give Georgia Tech one of the top defensive tackle duos in the country. Richard, who graduated with honors from Tech in just three years and is pursuing his graduate degree, has 10 tackles-for-loss, 4.0 sacks and a fumble recovery in 2008.
Burnett is tied for the NCAA lead in interceptions with seven, including a 35-yard INT return for a touchdown Saturday against Georgia. The College Park (Ga.) native leads the Yellow Jackets in tackles (79) to go with 5.5 tackles-for-loss, eight pass break-ups and a forced fumble. Burnett was the leading vote-getter among defensive players on the second team.
Howard, who played offensive tackle last season, started all 12 regular season games at guard. With Gardner sidelined with an injury, Howard helped the Yellow Jackets roll up a combined 881 yards rushing against Miami and Georgia to close the regular season.
Morgan did not receive the publicity his senior defensive line teammates received, but led all Tech defensive linemen in tackles (48). The Coatesville (Pa.) native has 9.5 tackles-for-loss, is tied for fourth in the ACC in sacks (7.0) and tied for second nationally with four fumble recoveries.
Thomas ranks fourth in the ACC averaging 57.50 receiving yards per game. He has 35 catches for 576 yards, an average of 16.5 yards per grab. He also has three touchdowns, including an 88-yarder which was the third-longest pass play in school history.